Electrical Power & Protection


Schneider Electric helps Senwes attain stable energy supply

June 2022 Electrical Power & Protection

Senwes, one of South Africa’s leading agricultural companies, has partnered with Schneider Electric for an ambitious substation upgrade project that now sees the organisation benefiting from accessible, advanced and stable electricity supply.

The Senwes Group of companies operates nationally. Unfortunately, its head office, based in Klerksdorp in North West province, had been experiencing energy supply issues due to its dedicated substation’s ageing infrastructure which included faulty switchgear. The substation is owned by the City of Matlosana municipality.

Motla Consulting Engineers has been supporting Senwes in a strategic technology development partnership for many years. To remedy the issue, Senwes and Motla decided to upgrade and move the substation that would ensure its Klerksdorp offices and surrounds would benefit from safe and efficient energy supply based on advanced technology that could be managed from outside the confines of a building.

Digitalisation with the use of connected devices has been identified by Senwes and Motla as one of the key development areas for any new installations. “The Internet of Things, a world where value-add for business is unlocked by analysing and utilising information to make the business more efficient and more profitable," is the direction for the future, says Chris Lombard, managing director of Motla Consulting Engineers.

Schneider, as a long-term technology development partner for Senwes, and with world-leading products for the application, was engaged as a technology supplier for this project. “Following extensive and lengthy negotiations with the City of Matlosana, it was decided to not only upgrade the substation but also move it to a safer environment. Senwes’ basement at its Klerksdorp offices offered a safe and practical choice,” explains Llewellyn Bakker, application design engineer for the Power Systems division at Schneider Electric.

The installation and benefits

Once the City of Matlosana gave the go-ahead for the substation to be moved, the installation process commenced in earnest and ran smoothly. The teams from both Senwes and Motla met with Schneider Electric regularly to ensure that not only the correct equipment was installed (for underground usage) but the current and ageing substation was moved safely.

The project rollout on site was executed by Einstein Electrical. It took 80 days for the complete installation of the substation with a state-of-the-art Premset medium-voltage (MV) switchgear solution from Schneider Electric.

“New, advanced equipment was installed and made feature-ready, therefore enabling Senwes to, among others, access switchgear from outside the substation. This enables Senwes to constantly monitor power ratings and substation conditions,” says Thabang Pitso, project and application designer for the Power Systems division at Schneider Electric.

As Johann Becker from Senwes testified; "With the newly installed equipment we have significantly reduced the risks for safety, reliability and consequential damages associated with the old switchgear. We now also have better monitoring and operating capabilities with the connected switching devices."

Senwes’ head offices in Klerksdorp – and surrounding utility users – now benefit from:

• Safe and insulated switchgear.

• A digital switchboard that can be accessed remotely and monitor conditions such as temperature, cable connection and the overall health of the substation.

• Remote monitoring of power meters, which improves safety as the substation does not need to be physically accessed by operators. This allows for remote meter readings for billing purposes.

• Energy consumption reporting from the digital switchboard, which allows Senwes to adjust its usage accordingly.

Schneider Electric also installed a 19-inch HMI (human machine interface) to allow the substation operators to manage the status of the breakers, which adds another level of safety. Additionally, the substation solution has been set up to allow the operators to address issues on their own without the help of Schneider Electric.

Concludes Bakker: “The Senwes Klerksdorp substation now provides consistent, regulated and automated supply. Fault finding has also been simplified and the infrastructure can be monitored to ensure potential issues are timeously identified and remedied.”


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